July Newsletter-2015 – Cataracts: Reflections on What I Can and Cannot See…and Why

As I said last month, I had surgery to remove cataracts. I wore contact lenses for over 5 decades, and much of that time the lenses were for mono-vision—one lens for reading, and the other for seeing distance. In the June newsletter, I referenced Debbie Shapiro’s interpretation of far sightedness as a blurring of what is close up, an inability to accept the reality around us; and near sightedness (contracted muscles) an attempt to block our vision of something in our past, but also that the sight has been retracted, pulled back, feeling that the future is insecure and avoided by focusing on the present.

With mono-vision, one might be faced with the need to synchronize the two extreme focuses in order to see clearly, to avoid blurring or double vision. The people who wear bifocals or trifocals also fall into this category of incorporating near and far sightedness. If one is curious about this, processing the gap might mean looking at what needs addressed –increasing an awareness to “bridge” possible trauma or baggage in the past with reluctance to accept change regarding our future–therefore, healing ones perception of both to create a clearer vision.

Jacob Liberman, O.D., Ph.D., is the author of Take Off Your Glasses and See: A Mind/Body Approach to Expanding Your Eyesight and Insight. While our vision is relative to the brain processing what we perceive through our eyes, Dr. Liberman addresses how our emotions, thoughts, behavior and social environment interact with this process and contribute to the deterioration of our vision. Regarding trauma, Liberman believes that it isn’t the experience that contributes to poor vision but our reaction to it—“the coping pattern that we develop to deal with the uncomfortable feelings.” Often people will say something like, “I just couldn’t bear to see that happen,” and then blur the memory of the event in effort to erase what they actually saw.

Dr. Liberman uses an analogy of Homeopathy –healing in the same direction as the imbalance (as in like attracts like). He observes that “unresolved fears and hurts of our childhood seem to be repeated well into our adult life…often forming the core of the major challenges in our life until we learn to heal or resolve them,–and seem to repeatedly attract situations and relationships that resonate perfectly with our most vulnerable feelings, despite our resolutions to avoid them.” Liberman continues to explain that emotional healing can take place when we get in touch with our deepest pain rather than suppressing it…like letting a fever take its course versus suppressing it with aspirin.

Noting that mental strain of any kind always produces a conscious or unconscious eye strain, we typically spend many years avoid difficult feelings which triggers unresolved issues.  Dr. Liberman tells us, “This discomfort is a reminder that there’s an area in which we need to do some healing. Like vision problems, our most uncomfortable feelings keep coming back until we realize that the problem isn’t outside ourselves, in the other person or the external events.” Recognizing that this cycle can continue indefinitely, how can we learn to shift away from these blocked places? “Full awareness means that our energy field, our feelings, and all our senses are open and receptive. Expanding our awareness is perhaps the most important step in deeply changing our vision of how we see the world…and, of itself, is curative as it is an expansive, effortless process.”

“The well-known physicist, David Bohm, said that ‘all matter is frozen light. Our receptivity to the light of life shapes our capacity to see, to know, and to feel. Becoming frightened contracts how we see and then we hold back the expression of our full potential for fear that our own power will overwhelm those limits. Vision problems are just one manifestation of our self-restriction.’”

“Goethe said that ‘light created the eye as an organ with which to appreciate itself.’”

Our challenge is to accept where we are, accept our triggers, the emotional holes we keep stepping into out of the patterns we have created, and use that pain and recognition to increase our awareness. As we work through our past, our fears and discomforts we begin to shift out of our blocked places. Our receptivity can expand as we release struggle and fear that we have grown to expect.

“Throughout the ages, saints and sages have taught that the core of Creation is an indescribable radiance of absolute love. Our minds cannot comprehend that luminous essence…but we are designed to continuously reach toward that light by living as much of our potential as we can—and by seeing with the clarity and brilliance of our full awareness,” wrote Dr. Liberman.

There is an old saying, “If you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you have always gotten.” Thinking that we have any control over our waning vision may be a stretch to accept. But it is also a wakeup call.  While I’m waiting for my healing to improve my vision, why not entertain the thought that this is also a very appropriate time to look back to my childhood, evaluate what took place 12-24 months before needing glasses, what happened in a similar time frame before lights took on a halo at night and signs became blurred? It’s easy to read something like Jacob Liberman’s book and dismiss it as someone else’s experiences…not knowing how to apply it to my own life. But Dr. Liberman’s clients and students spoke to childhood examples that were the onset of their vision problems and how they became aware of changes to make emotionally and mentally to alter their vision and their lives. If, however, one chooses to accept their vision and life limits because we are taught that we are supposed to have vision problems at a certain age, then maybe we can expect to keep stepping into the emotional holes that sustain our fears and excuses.  I think we have a choice.

As Goethe said on his deathbed, “Open the second shutter, so that more light can come in.”